Ok, people, I’m totally going there today. This is your warning. This post might be a little T.M.I. for some of you. But, if you’re like me and have always experienced horrible breast pain in the days leading up to your period, today is your lucky day!
Let me share with you how one simple (or maybe not-so-simple) diet change eliminated my pre-menstrual breast pain, immediately!
Just ask my husband: I dreaded the ten days leading up to my period more than my period itself. And so did he. When I was younger, I used to think PMS was a horrible myth that guys made up just to poke fun of us ladies. But when I hit my late twenties, it became more and more apparent that it wasn’t a myth at all to me. I was very much linked to what my hormones were doing, and my mood, energy, and body could tell me clearly my period was coming soon!
I dreaded the ten days leading up to my period more than my period itself.
One of the indicators that my period was coming was breast pain. It would start rather subtly, just noticing that they were slightly tender when I’d take my bra off at night. From this point on, it was all downhill. The pain would get progressively worse and worse. They would get swollen, heavy, and hard. Just the smallest accidental bump to my breasts would cause me to wince in pain. My bras never fit me, and my shirts looked horrible because my boobs spilled out of the top. I’m sure that I literally gained two cup sizes.
T.M.I. WARNING! At night, to relieve the pain and pressure, my sweet husband would massage them for me. It would hurt like crazy at first, but as he massaged, he could feel that the rock-hard lumps inside were getting worked out. My boobs would go from being hard-as-softballs to soft again. Thus, this became our ritual.
Being I have a medical background, I knew that it was simply caused by my body’s surge of progesterone, preparing to be ready to support a fertilized egg, a.k.a. pregnancy. Not only does progesterone prep the uterus for implantation, but it’s also prepping the breasts for milk production, thus, the swelling and tenderness I was feeling at this part of my cycle. (You can sharpen up on your menstrual cycle biology here).
At this point in my life, I had just accepted the pain as “normal”, until a family vacation changed everything.
My husband and I try and follow a ketogenic lifestyle, eating foods that are low in sugar and high in healthy fats. We both have seen the health benefits personally, both having healthy weight loss, more energy, and sharper minds because of it. However, on our family trip we took one month ago, we both fell off the wagon. We ate pasta, bread, fries, ice cream, and everything else we knew wasn’t going to make it feel good in the end, but we ate it anyways. “We’re on vacation“.
Well, we knew better, and we both came back home feeling miserable, bloated, and gained more weight than I’d ever like to admit. I needed a re-do.
To get motivated again, I decided to read the health book, “Eat Dirt” by Dr. Josh Axe. It is not specifically a ketogenic diet book, but the foods in it support the lifestyle.
I also decided on the way home the not only would I start eating clean again, but I would try giving up something I never ever thought I would; coffee!
To say I loved coffee is a severe understatement. I lived for coffee! It’s what I looked forward to in the morning. I would go to bed at night thinking, “I can’t wait to have coffee in the morning.” We have seven different ways to brew coffee at my house; a drip brewer, a Chemex, a Hario, a french press, a Moka Pot, a BodyBrew, and a Fridge Barista. (Not to mention our burr grinder, hand burr-grinder, blade grinder, and goose-neck kettle). Coffee is what my husband and I did together. If we went on a date, coffee! When we woke up, coffee and more coffee. When we were bored, coffee! When we had friends over, coffee! When we celebrated, coffee! I loved coffee. And even more so, I was proud of my love of coffee.
Now, stick with me here! We’ll get back to the breast pain thing in just a minute!
Let me be clear, I did not quit coffee because I thought it would it would help my breast pain. However, I had read in Dr. Axe’s book that caffeine can interfere with thyroid function. Being my family has a history of hypothyroidism, and I currently have subclinical hypothyroidism (with a TSH of 5.1), I thought it would be best to at least try cutting the caffeine to see if I noticed any improvements. Well, I did more than just cut down on coffee, I went completely cold turkey! It was absolutely miserable.
But fortunately I stuck it out, and I definitely saw an improvement I wasn’t expecting! I have been tracking my periods with an app on my phone for the past three years. I have tracked long enough to know that my breast pain began about ten days before my period start. I quit coffee about a week before my breast pain was due to start. And guess what, I have come to the end of those usual ten days of pain any my usual symptoms are amazingly improved! I have had no hardness and no pain. I’ve only had minimal swelling. But absolutely nothing like I had when I was hooked on coffee! To my husband’s relief, or demise, I haven’t asked him to massage my boobs once!
Something clicked in my brain that my lack of breast pain had to coincide with the fact that I had quit my much-loved coffee habit. So I started researching the correlation between caffeine and breast pain, and there definitely is one! Article after article supported the fact that I wasn’t crazy in thinking my pre-menstrual breast pain had everything to do with my obsessive coffee drinking. Yeah me! I’m not crazy! Caffeine has the ability to open up blood vessels and increase blood flow. That increased blood flow to my boobs wasn’t doing myself any favors!
My pre-menstrual breast pain had everything to do with my obsessive coffee drinking.
Life has been better for me on the other side of caffeine. My boobs are so very grateful.
And if you have the same horrible breast pain, take a long, hard look at your coffee and caffeine consumption. It is very likely that the two go hand-in-hand. It might just be worth it to stop, and that is coming from someone who told her husband last year when he said he was going to cut back on coffee, “Why would you do a stupid thing like that?”
I’ve seen other health benefits as well from quitting caffeine, which I will expand on on a later date. In the meantime, I’m enjoying being pain-free, and I’ve even found a delicious and healthy drink to replace my beloved coffee, called Dandy Blend!
So, talk to me! Can you relate the having severe PMS and breast pain? Are you a fellow coffee lover? Go ahead and give it a shot! I’d love to help you through this!
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Thank you so much for your article! I too have been having terrible boob pain after a period and consider myself healthy. I recently had a hysterectomy and I stupidly was thinking my PMS symptoms would lessen if not go away but boy was a wrong. I was quickly reminded that its definitely a hormone problem or early thyroid issue as well. I recently heard the thought that it could be caffeine and I am starting to test it so I finally google searched it this morning and found your article most helpful! My boob pain has no schedule and I had a rough night with soreness last night. You almost can’t get comfortable to sleep! And what did I do yesterday? Had iced tea alllll day. I have already switched to decaf coffee for the most part but I guess even tea is not good. Especially when you drink it all day long. So thank you again for helping! Hopefully many others can find your story relatable! We are not alone!
This was interesting and informative, I’ll be cutting down to one cup a day and see what happens. Thankyou!